The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2023 has gone to Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov for “the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots”.

“These smallest components of nanotechnology now spread their light from televisions and LED lamps, and can also guide surgeons when they remove tumour tissue, among many other things,” the Nobel Prize website said.

What exactly did the three scientists discover and why is it important? The story behind this year’s Nobel involves the Iron Curtain, coloured glass, and tiny particles that absorb blue light.

What are quantum dots? The properties of any element depends on how many electrons it has. However, when matter is really tiny, of nano-dimensions, its properties depend on its size. 

The smaller a particle, the more its electrons are squeezed together, and that affects its properties. Such particles, whose size determines their behaviour, are called quantum dots.

While in theory, scientists had known for long that such particles could exist, the three Nobel laureates, through their work over decades 

Bawendi did his postdoctoral research under Brus  succeeded in creating quantum dots of a high quality, which could be put to practical use.

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